There is no English word for the feeling that shuttles like a blurry bolt of anxiety swapping saliva with sorrow when you give up on a dream. When that glimmer of possibility that something you don’t really believe can be achieved is still there calling you toward it, and having readily found the will in the past to keep journeying such, finally burns on the back of your head, unseen by any eye you possess. Relinquished to regret, or patted down between two bricks of the character you’ve built, this potential self gets sized down to a toy you put back in the box that gets taped up and cast off for shinier selves. But they don’t make you like they used to. You’ll never be as good as the original.
One of my most favoured teachers taught me this feeling when they told me I’d never be a writer. By the time my parents were through with my ambitions to perform, my colleagues finished with my desire to make an impact, mass media sated with my hopes to be anybody of note and gay, I was well-versed in the sensation. And now I’m well past what I’m hoping is the mark of a quarter of my life, and the industries people told me I wouldn’t be accepted in, would barely exist by the time I’d be trying to contribute to them? They’re still here, they’re still churning out bad books, bad policies, and bad representations of my community.
I’m really fucking lucky these days. I get to write, I get to be read, I get to live openly. And in an age where the moral highground is like Studio 54, being part of an oppressed cohort is the new sainthood and we’re all moving too fast to care about the lives lost in the last massacre because they’ve fallen out of the newsfeed, I find my grasp on relevance is only slipping because I’m willing to listen to those I perceive to be ahead of me.
Those who are truly ahead aren’t looking over their shoulder to see who’s behind them, but trusting the love they feel both inside and beyond themselves to push their leadership ever forward. It is worth the hard work diminishing distractions, eliminating insecurities where possible. Forgive the past, forego fear, face the future, feel through everything.
A good friend whose life I find myself continuously admiring and nearly envying looked me dead in the eye recently and said she had no idea what she wanted in life. We’re all stumbling like life is a Drake video, and settling for stability takes the place of many a wild idea or big dream because we fear we’re running out of time to risk it. I don’t know a single successful person who hasn’t taken huge gambles, but I also don’t know a single successful person who actually thinks their position in that success is secure. It’s never time for trials not to be the main form of currency by which we bargain for the best of life.
Big love as ever to Chris of bear+man photography for the image. And to every person who keeps my dream alive. No dream comes true through one person alone. It takes a family, a village, an army.